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The Fifth Quarter: Week 7 Rewind

Missouri v Georgia Getty Images

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WINNERS

Missouri: The Showed You State
Everybody who thought that, after Week 7 of the season, Missouri would be unbeaten and all alone in first place in the SEC East raise your hands.  Now, put ’em down as all y’all are lying.  Yet that’s exactly where Gary Pinkel‘s Tigers find themselves Sunday morning, sporting a spotless 6-0 record overall and an East-best 2-0 mark in SEC play thanks to their win over Georgia coupled with Florida’s loss to LSU.  Yes, Mizzou’s win came at the expense of the injury-ravaged Bulldogs, but it was huge for the Tigers regardless of the circumstances and how it’s couched as the win over No. 7 UGA was the program’s first against a Top-10 team on the road since dropping No. 9 Mississippi State in October of 1981.  Let’s not pop any SEC East champagne for Mizzou quite yet, however.  The next two weeks — without starting quarterback James Franklin — the Tigers will host Florida and South Carolina in back-to-back games that could very well determine the division’s representative in the SEC championship game.  And, no, I never thought I’d be typing that sentence in relation to Mizzou, especially after a debut season in the SEC that saw the Tigers win just two conference games (Kentucky, Tennessee).

Super Mariota… again
I’m fully aware of the fact that the Heisman is not handed out in the middle of October, but, dayum.  In six games this season, Marcus Mariota has thrown for 17 touchdowns, ran for another eight… and has thrown zero interceptions in 165 attempts.  And, as if tossing down the stiff-armed gauntlet, Mariota went out Saturday and had his finest performance of the season, all things considered.  Against a Washington defense that came into the game with Oregon ranked No. 3 nationally in passing efficiency defense, Mariota carved said defense to the tune of 24-of-31 passing for 366 yards and three touchdowns.  For good measure, he added 88 yards rushing and another score.  Again, they don’t hand out the Heisman at this time of the year.  The award does, though, have a front-runner and Mariota is decidedly that.

Texas-sized Big 12 leader
It goes without saying that Texas’ 16-point beatdown of Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout qualifies as a stunner, what with the Longhorns having lost the last two rivalry games by a combined total of 80 points… and how they’ve been mired in mediocrity the past few years… and how Mack Brown‘s tenure is seemingly coming to a close.  It’s when you step back and look at the bigger picture, though, that you get the biggest jolt.  The Longhorns are currently one of three Big 12 teams with no losses in conference play, and are tied atop the standings at 3-0 with Texas Tech.  Baylor, which looked unstoppable against the lightweights on its schedule, was positively beatable on the road against Kansas State in its first real test of the season, although the Bears survived to remain that third unbeaten Big 12 team at 2-0.  Did the Longhorns save their season — and Brown’s job — Saturday?  It’s still too early to tell, especially with games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor to close out the regular season still looming.  For now, though, the Golden Hat — and control of its own destiny in the Big 12’s race to the BCS — resides in Austin.

A Mannion’s man
Were it not for a three-point season-opening loss to Eastern Washington, Oregon State would very likely be a Twp-20 team at the moment.  And Sean Mannion might be getting the respect nationally he deserves.  Entering the game against Washington State Saturday night, the Beavers quarterback led the nation in passing yards per game (403.6) and passing touchdowns (21) through five games.  In his sixth game, Mannion did nothing but elevate his standing in both of those categories.  In helping OSU push its record to 5-1, Mannion passed for a season-high 493 yards and added four more touchdown passes as the Beavers cruised to a 52-24 win over Wazzu.  OSU, and thus Mannion, have yet to face a high-profile opponent, which has in large part led to the lack of recognition outside of Corvallis.  With games against Stanford (Oct. 26), Washington (Nov. 23) and the Civil War with Oregon (Nov. 29), Mannion will have plenty of opportunity to state his case nationally.  Provided he can rise to that level of competition, of course.

Brian FantanaBOB’s Big Ones
Bill O’Brien had already seen four missed field goals from the end of regulation through the first three overtimes against Michigan, including one off the foot of his own kicker.  Down by three and facing a fourth and one, O’Brien eschewed the field goal attempt that would’ve sent the game into a fifth overtime and instead grabbed his James Westfall and Doctor Kenneth Noisewater.  A Bill Belton three-yard run got the first down and, four plays later, Belton scooted across from two yards out to knock the Wolverines from the ranks of the unbeatens.  O’Brien should be applauded for both having the guts to make that call at that juncture and for his awareness of the energy that had been expended by his Nittany Lions creating a need to not extend the game.

Rebounding with a vengeance
Just 10 days ago, Travis Wilson had a six-pack of picks that was largely responsible for Utah’s seven-point loss to No. 11 UCLA.  Against No. 5 Stanford, the Utes quarterback went out and totally redeemed himself.  While he threw another interception, Wilson was otherwise outstanding, completing 23-of-34 passes for 234 yards and a pair of critical first-quarter touchdowns that put the unbeaten Cardinal on notice… and helped drop them from undefeated and controlling their own destiny to one of the myriad one-loss teams that will need help getting back in the national title hunt.  Redemption is an awe-inspiring thing, especially when it’s a college kid on the receiving end one game later against one of the best teams in the country.

Riding the Green Wave
Coming off a disastrous two-win 2012 season, there were some calling for the head of head coach Curtis Johnson after just one year at Tulane.  Nearly a year later, those same people are very likely singing Johnson’s praises.  You see, the Green Wave has won five of its first seven games this season, including a thrilling triple-overtime win over East Carolina Saturday evening.  It’s the first time since 2004 that Tulane has won more than four games in a single season, and the Green Wave still has five games remaining to win one game and become bowl eligible for the first time since 2002.  On top of all of that, Tulane is tied for the Conference USA West lead with Rice.  The individuals wanting Johnson gone last year may get their wish 12 months late; thanks to Tulane’s play, Johnson’s name will likely come up for various vacancies across the country in the coming months.

Army strongTerry Baggett , Donald Coleman
Yeah, I’ll go ahead and say it: Terry Baggett does more before 3 p.m. than most running backs do all season.  Or something like that.  In the Black Knights’ 50-25 win over Eastern Michigan, the junior rushed for 304 yards on just 18 carries and added four scores on the ground for good measure.  Baggett came into the matchup with 440 yards and two touchdowns in the first six games of the season.  The 304 yards are an academy record, part of which came on a 96-yard touchdown run.  In closing, go Baggett and go ‘Merica…

LOSERS

Nov. 7
That day on the football calendar was shaping up to be arguably the best and most important Thursday in college football history.  Oregon at Stanford and Oklahoma at Baylor had most prognosticators pointing to it during the preseason as the day where the chase for the BCS would really begin to take shape.  Now?  Not so much thanks to Oklahoma’s blowout loss to Texas and Stanford’s stunning loss on the road to Utah.  Those games will still be important, especially as it pertains to the respective conference races, but it has certainly lost a lot of luster as far as the national stage is concerned because of Saturday’s events.

Bears are human after all
Through the first four games of its season, Baylor was the darling of the national media.  Averaging a nation’s best 781 yards per game (Oregon was next at 630) and scoring 70-plus points a contest, the Bears were the shiny thing dangled in front of a giddy toddler.  Of course, those gaudy stats came against Wofford, Buffalo, Louisiana-Monroe and West Virginia.  In their first real test of the season against Kansas State?  The gaudy numbers dissipated, but the winning didn’t.  The Bears were held to season-lows in total offense (445 yards), rushing (114) and points (35), but still managed to go into always-tough Manhattan and escape back to Waco with a 10-point conference win over the Wildcats.  The Bears may have been exposed, and K-State may have provided a blueprint for future Big 12 opponents to at least slow down the high-powered attack, but they showed a resiliency they haven’t needed all season long.  And that might be more impressive than any of the video game-like numbers they had put up through the first one-third of the regular season.

South Carolina v ArkansasKarma indeed
Very shortly after Wisconsin’s controversial loss to Arizona State in mid-September, Jen Bielema, the wife of former UW and current Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, tweeted “#karma” in the general direction of the Badgers and their fans.  While I’m certain it’s merely coincidence — or the “k” word — the Razorbacks, after winning their first three games pre-tweet, have now lost four straight since Mrs. Bielema typed out the five-letter word and sent it hurtling out into the Twittersphere.  Punctuating the losing streak was Saturday’s humbling 45-point loss to South Carolina, the third straight SEC loss for Bielema by a combined total of 77 points.  Strong with this one, the karma is.

The Lane Kiffin Error Era
If you wanted to sum up Lane Kiffin‘s time at USC, these five words would just about do it: “The players have hope now.”  Those were the words of USC athletic director Pat Haden, and they came shortly after the Trojans upended Arizona in the USC interim debut of Ed Orgeron.  It was far from pretty, but there was an exuberance, an excitement that had been lacking for years under Kiffin and, to be honest, under the weight of NCAA sanctions.  Pulling the plug on Kiffin’s tenure as head coach was seen as a necessary move.  And, as it turns out, it was a refreshing one for the entire program as well. “You should have been in the locker room before the game, I’ve never seen anything like it. Guys were having a blast,” Haden, again, said afterwards.  The win was one thing; the words coming from those in and around the football program were a damning indictment of everything that’s gone in in the Land of Troy the past three-plus seasons, even if it did humble the Arrogant One.

Airror Force
The Air Force football program has officially hit rock bottom.  Leading San Diego State by 14 with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter Thursday night, the Falcons gave up 21 straight points in a 10-minute span to snatch defeat from the jaws of defeat.  The service academy is now 1-6, its worst start since going 1-6 to begin the 1993 season.  With an Oct. 26 game against Notre Dame on the horizon, the Falcons could very well be staring in the face of their worst start to a season since going 1-6-1 in 1980.

TOP 25 TOO-CLOSE-FOR-COMFORT
How ranked teams endured close shaves vs. unranked opponents

— No. 3 Clemson 24, Boston College 14: The Tigers needed 14 fourth-quarter points to avoid an infamous Clemsoning.  We’ll just chalk this up to looking ahead to the titanic matchup with Florida State next weekend and move on.

— No. 8 Louisville 24, Rutgers 10: Thanks to a pillowy soft schedule, the Cardinals need to take its opponents to the woodshed each and every time they step on the field.  That didn’t happen Thursday night, which has caused some to already write off the UofL’s BCS title game hopes.  While that’s debatable, the Cardinals will likely see themselves lose ground in the polls again this week.

Texas A&M v Mississippi— No. 9 Texas A&M 41, Ole Miss 38: In a wildly entertaining game, the Aggies needed a field goal as time expired to stay unbeaten on the road under Kevin Sumlin.  Of course, the win was due in large part to Johnny Football, who totaled 470 yards of total offense (346 passing, 124 rushing) in a performance that will keep him in the Heisman repeat mix.  That defense, though, is still an area of major concern and will likely bite the Aggies again at some point before the regular season ends.

— No. 15 Baylor 35, Kansas State 25: The Bears needed a real test and, after a hiccup up or two that nearly cost them an unblemished record.  the Waco Kids earned a passing grade.

— No. 20 Texas Tech 42, Iowa State 35:  The Red Raiders muddled through the first three quarters against the one-win Cyclones, tied at halftime and leading by just a touchdown entering the fourth.  Tech did, though, become the first bowl-eligible team in the Big 12 so they have that going for them, which is good.

— No. 23 Northern Illinois 27, Akron 20:  Hey, the one-win Zips nearly knocked off Michigan in the Big House earlier this year.  It happens.

— No. 24 Virginia Tech 19, Pittsburgh 9: I’m putting this game here solely to highlight the Hokies’ defense as Tech allowed the Panthers just 23 yards rushing on 26 carries.  All told, Pitt was only able to must 210 yards of offense against a team that’s quietly ripped off six straight wins since its 25-point loss to Alabama to open the season.

CFT TOP FIVE
A snapshot look at how my ballot would look Monday if I, ya know, had a real vote instead of a measly and meaningless preseason poll.

1. Alabama — After a scoreless first quarter against Kentucky, I very nearly dropped the Tide below Oregon.  Then the second quarter and on happened and my goodness did the Tide roll, putting up 668 yards of offense and 48 points in a 41-point throttling of the Wildcats. (Last week: No. 1)
Next up: vs. Arkansas

Oregon v Washington2. Oregon — Even with Alabama rolling (eventually) against a below-average Kentucky team, I was still (very) tempted to allow the Ducks to leapfrog the consensus No. 1 team in the country thanks to the virtuoso performance against arguably the best two-loss team in the country in Washington.  I couldn’t pull the trigger this week, but can’t promise a repeat if the Ducks continue mowing down the competition. (Last week: No. 2)
Next up: vs. Washington State

3. Clemson — Despite eking by a very average Boston College team in Clemson’s version of Death Valley, the Tigers are still a very good football team.  Get a huge win over you-know-how Saturday, and they’ll elbow themselves right into the Alabama-Oregon mix. (Last week: No. 3)
Next up: vs. No. 6 Florida State

4. Ohio State — The Buckeyes were on a bye, and may benefit somewhat in the polls thanks to Clemson’s sleepwalk against BC.  Northwestern getting throttled by Wisconsin and Michigan losing to Penn State, however, is very bad long-term for OSU. (Last week: No. 4)
Next up: vs. Iowa

5. Florida State — The Cardinal’s loss is the Seminoles’ gain.  A bye week for FSU allowed them to heal up for its Game of the Century against you-know-who Saturday. (Last week: unranked)
Next up: at No. 3 Clemson

(Dropped from the rankings: No. 5 Stanford)

HE SAID IT
“I do feel badly for Arkansas. That’s no fun getting your butt beat at home, homecoming and all that.” — Steve Spurrier, after South Carolina went into Fayetteville and spanked the Razorbacks 52-7.

HE SAID IT, THE SEQUEL
“We sit back and let y’all bash us and bash our coaches. … There comes a time when you put a chip on your shoulder.” — Texas quarterback Case McCoy.

HE SAID IT, THE THREEQUEL
“I’m looking forward to the next 30 minutes, because the first 30 minutes sucked.” — Pat Fitzgerald, after watching Northwestern fall behind Wisconsin 21-6 in the first half.  The next 30 minutes weren’t much better for the Wildcats as the final score ended up 35-6.

HE SAID IT, BONUS EDITION
“Yeah, playing your ass off.” — Texas co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Major Applewhite, when asked if an offensive identity had emerged for the Longhorns.

HE SAID IT, LES MILES EDITION
[See extended version below]

PHOTO OF THE WEEK
As a huge fan of NASCAR, count me among those who were absolutely thrilled with the reports that a future Tennessee-Virginia Tech game will be played at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Having been to that short track — the August night race should be on any sports fan’s bucket list — I can see exactly how and why both the track and the schools would want to play in the modern-day motorized Colosseum.  Have you wondered, though, what it will look like?  Thanks to @NeylandStadium, we have a little perspective:

Bristol Neyland

That, folks, is Neyland Stadium sitting inside the .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway.  And that, folks, is freaking spectacular, even as I understand that some/most of the sight lines and vantage points won’t be optimal compared to playing in a stadium designed for football.

That said, I absolutely cannot wait to see — and possibly be a part of — that atmosphere.

Oh, and before you ask, no, ball carriers won’t be allowed to only make cuts to the left in that game.

SAY WHAT?
For the first time in the football program’s storied history, Alabama had a 300-yard passer (AJ McCarron‘s career-high 359 yards) and two 100-yard rushers (T.J. Yeldon, 16-124-2; Kenyan Drake, 14-106-2) in the same game.

TRUE STORY
From the Clemson Sports Information Department: Clemson’s defense held the nation’s leading rusher in Andre Williams to just 70 yards rushing and a 2.9 yards-per-carry average. He had entered the game averaging 153.6 rushing yards per game and 5.8 yards per carry.

FOR STATISTICAL PURPOSES ONLY

— Thanks to losses by Michigan, Oklahoma and Stanford, there are now 14 teams at the FBS level with no losses this season.  The ACC has the most unbeatens at this juncture with three (Clemson, Florida State and Miami), while the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC have two apiece.  On the flip side, and with UMass dropping still winless Miami (Ohio), there are eight teams remaining who have yet to win a game in 2013.  Two of the Unfortunate Octet reside in the American Athletic Conference.

Boston College v Clemson— Clemson’s Tajh Boyd threw for 334 yards in the close win over Boston College to become the all-time leader in passing yards in Clemson history with 9,836 yards. He also moved in to fourth place in ACC history in the same category and into second place in carer 300-yard passing games (14).

Brett Hundley passed for 409 yards and three touchdowns to help unbeaten UCLA to a 37-10 win over Cal.

— Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery accounted for 296 all-purpose yards: 160 on kickoff returns, 131 receiving and five rushing.

— Jonathan Gray rushed for 123 yards and Malcolm Brown for 120 in Texas’ win over Oklahoma; it marked the first time UT has seen two players go over the century mark against OU.

— Washington’s Bishop Sankey, who entered the game fourth nationally in rushing yards per game at 146.4, rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the loss to Oregon.

— Louisiana Monroe’s Isaiah Newsome became just the second player in Sun Belt Conference history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game. The senior also broke the SBC record for interception return yardage in a single game with 146.

— Playing in place of the injured Baker MayfieldDavis Webb threw for 415 yards and three TDs in leading Texas Tech over Iowa State 42-35.

David Fales passed for 431 yards and three touchdowns in San Jose State’s 34-27 win over Colorado State.

— Coming off a concussion, Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage was sacked eight times in the loss to Virginia Tech.

— Utah’s win over No. 5 Stanford was the Utes’ first-ever over a team that entered the game ranked in the Top Five.  It was also the program’s first win over a team in the Top 10 since 1973.

— Florida extended its streak of holding SEC opponents under 20 points to 13 straight games against LSU, the longest in the conference.  Unfortunately, while the Gators held the Tigers to 17, they were held to six in the loss.

— Very enlightening stat from Jon Solomon of al.com: the past 14 games, Auburn has started five different quarterbacks.  Alabama has started three different quarterbacks the past 80 games.  Speaking of the Tigers…

— Auburn rolled up a school-record 712 yards of total offense in the Tigers’ 62-3 win over FCS-level Western Carolina.  Included in that total was 511 yards rushing on 43 carries, with nine different players credited with carries.

— Michigan State came into its game against Indiana as the No. 1 rush defense in the country, giving up an average of 51.2 yards per game; on the fourth play from scrimmage, the Hoosiers’ Tevin Coleman raced 64 yards right up the gut for a touchdown.  The rest of the game, however, the Spartans allowed just 28 yards on 26 carries in the 42-28 win.

— USF hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown the last two games… and have won both of those contests.  They are the first team ever at the FBS level to pull that trick in back-to-back weeks.

— Northern Illinois has now won 23 straight games at home, the longest such streak in the country.

— In a shout-out to the FCS, Fordham is 6-0 for the first time in a staggering 83 years.

IN CLOSING…
Les Miles
has, how shall we say it, a very unique and special relationship with the English language.  As the latest — and one of the best — example of that relationship, we leave you with the following transcript courtesy of CoachingSearch.com — the video’s HERE — in which Miles responds to a reporter stating that Florida was the hammer and LSU was the nail last season, with the roles being reversed this year.  Enjoy, and good night y’all:

“I’ve got a question for you. It was a 14-6 game. We played our asses off. How anybody could pick the hammer and the nail, when in fact, that hammer or nail, we catch a ball down there, we’re fixing to take the lead, and we turn it over. Explain to me how Kevin Minter, who set the damn near career tackle record in that game, how anybody could say hammer and nail?

“I can tell you right now, here’s what happens: Two very quality teams take the field and compete like a son of a bitch for victory. You know what? It’s not a hammer and a nail relationship. It’s an opportunity for an opponent to be equal and to raise their level of play in such a fashion that they win. That’s how this thing works. In fact, you respect the opponent. He’s not the hammer and he’s not the frickin’ nail, OK? He’s the opponent. You understand?

“I’m just letting you know, I resent that. I resent the fact that suddenly, we were nail, you got it? Honest to Pete. We were a pretty good team last year. I thought we played like a son of a bitch in that stadium. I’m just letting you know, I felt differently than the nail, so you know.”

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Academic reasons cost USF its leading 2014 sacker

Derrick Calloway

USF released its updated depth chart ahead of the start of summer camp, and there’s one very noticeable absence.

Derrick Calloway is no longer listed as a member of Willie Taggart‘s squad.  According to the school, the defensive tackle has withdrawn from the university because of academic reasons.

It was noted by the school itself that Calloway could return to USF after 2015.

In 2014, Calloway’s three sacks led all Bull defensive linemen, as did his two quarterback hurries.  The Tampa Bay Times notes that, with Calloway’s departure, USF has just one defensive tackle on the roster with starting experience — Deadrin Senat, who has just two starts on his résumé.  Calloway himself had just three starts, all of which came last season as a sophomore.

(Photo credit: USF athletics)

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ECU gives projected starting guard Larry Williams the boot

Larry Williams

On yet another day of additional player movement, we’ll close shop for the night with one final departure.

East Carolina announced in a press release that Larry Williams has been dismissed by head coach Ruffin McNeill.  The dismissal comes after Williams was accused of violating unspecified team rules.

“It is always disappointing when someone is dismissed from the program, but there comes a time when an individual’s actions force the loss of a privilege, which in this case is being a part of our team,” McNeill said in a statement. “We all have the responsibility of being accountable.”

After redshirting as a true freshman in 2013, Williams played in all 13 games. Most of that action came on special teams.

However, the 6-4, 331-pound lineman was expected to head into summer camp as the projected starter at right guard.

(Photo credit: East Carolina athletics)

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Dismissed by Wazzu, Daquawn Brown expected to land at Fresno

Washington State v Stanford Getty Images

Nearly seven months to the day he was dismissed by Washington State, it appears that Daquawn Brown has found a landing spot.

According to FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, Brown “is expected to be cleared to transfer to Fresno State.”  Because of NCAA transfer rules, Brown will be forced to sit out the 2015 season.

He would have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

Back in late December, Brown was kicked off Mike Leach‘s football team.  While Wazzu never confirmed the dismissal, it was reported that it had involved, of course, a violation of unspecified team rules.

Brown started 11 of 12 games at cornerback in 2014, with the only start missed due to a second-half targeting penalty against Oregon State that kept him out of the first half of the Arizona State game.  He led the team in tackles with 82, and was named honorable mention Pac-12 following the regular season.

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QB Donovan Isom takes to Twitter to announce transfer from Utah

Isom_Donovan, Utah Football August 6, 2014 in Salt Lake City, UT. (Photo / Steve C. Wilson / University of Utah)

Utah’s quarterback meeting room will be one lighter when it enters summer camp than when it exited spring practice.

On Twitter Saturday evening, Donovan Isom tweeted out a photo of him wearing a Southeastern Louisiana uniform and helmet.  The quarterback confirmed to the Salt Lake Tribune that he decided to transfer from Utah to be closer to his family in Louisiana.

Last month, his family’s home was destroyed by fire, which triggered his decision to leave the Utes.

Another factor in the decision could very well have been the depth chart at his position.  Not counting Isom, the Utes’ roster is littered with five quarterbacks, including the incumbent Travis Wilson as well as well as former Oklahoma transfer Kendal Thompson.

Isom was a three-star member of Utah’s 2014 recruiting class who took a redshirt as a true freshman.  He took part in the spring game, rushing for 42 yards on 11 carries and completing seven passes for 15 yards.

Because Southeastern Louisiana is an FCS school, Isom will be eligible to play in 2015.  Including this year, he’ll have four years of eligibility remaining.

(Photo credit: Utah athletics)

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Michigan ditching ‘Legends’ jerseys, will re-retire iconic numbers

Appalachian v Michigan

One of the more controversial and clunky decisions of the Dave Brandon era at Michigan will officially come to an end this season.

Tuesday afternoon, UM announced that it plans on re-retiring the uniform numbers of seven of its football legends: Gerald Ford (#48), Tom Harmon (#98), Ron Kramer (#87), Bennie Oosterbaan (#47) and the Wistert brothers (#11) — Albert, Alvin and Whitey.  The jerseys associated with what are dubbed the Michigan Football Legends will be taken out of circulation as well.

The re-retirement ceremony will take place Nov. 28 prior to the annual grudge match with rival Ohio State.

Additionally, the No. 21 worn by Desmond Howard in a career that included a Heisman Trophy will be officially retired during the same ceremony. The initial decision to begin unretiring the jersey numbers began nearly four years ago under Brandon, as mlive.com explained:

Brandon started the Legends program during Howard’s Hall of Fame ceremony in early 2011. At the time, Howard’s No. 21 was the only number to receive the “Michigan Football Legend” distinction. Any player wearing the No. 21 during this time (Junior Hemingway and Jeremy Gallon were the only two) donned a commemorative patch on their uniform and sat in a specialized locker honoring the “Legend” player.

However, over the next four years, Michigan slowly began to bring all of its previous five retired uniforms back out of circulation, handing them to individual players who were selected by then coach Brady Hoke.

Following Brandon’s ouster and under interim athletic Jim Hackett, momentum grew for the jersey numbers to be tucked back in their rightful places.

“During the search process for our new football coach, I had a meeting with the Michigan Football team, and they expressed their feelings associated with wearing these legendary jerseys,” Hackett said in a statement. “At one end of the spectrum they are awed by the legacy of the men that wore them, and at the other end of the spectrum, and as part of a team sport, they wondered why we would call attention to one of our team members. I brought this issue to our new head coach Jim Harbaugh. He agreed with me that it needed a review. I then talked to the families of these great Michigan players. I called them directly and laid out the paradox of seeing players as a team and the due respect to these individual great players.

“The right plan is to retire them and display them in Towsley Museum which is connected to Schembechler Hall. Because we don’t have the display area inside the stadium, we have found a high-profile area on the concourse where fans can see and honor these retired jerseys.”

The only current player who will be impacted by the move is Desmond Morgan, who has worn No. 48 since 2012.

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Frank Beamer wants Hokies to stay in-house for a successor

Beamer, Beamer

Frank Beamer doesn’t sound like a coach who will be retiring at any point in the near future.  When he does, though, he has an idea for a replacement.

As part of the ESPN car wash Tuesday featuring some coaches from the ACC, the 68-year-old Beamer was asked who he thought should take over the reins at Virginia Tech when he decides to hang up his coaching whistle.  Two current Hokie coaches were mentioned specifically, Beamer’s son and Tech associate head coach/running backs coach Shane Beamer and the man who most assume will take over in Blacksburg when Beamer calls it quits, long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster.

“Absolutely,” Beamer said when asked if he wanted someone from his current staff to take over. “It’s up for the people of Virginia Tech to decide who [my successor] should be exactly, but I’ve got a great staff of very competent people. Hopefully, someone from the staff will be chosen to be the next coach at Virginia Tech.”

Beamer, the winningest coach in school history, will be entering his 29th season as the Hokies head coach. In August of last year, Tech announced a two-year contract extension that means Beamer is now signed through Jan. 1, 2019.  He also underwent a bit of a health scare last December, although he says he’s fine now.

Foster, who has been on Beamer‘s staff since 1987 and served as the coordinator since 1993, reached agreement on a new five-year contract in late December of last year that keeps him signed through the end of the 2019 season, one year longer than his current boss. Foster’s name has been attached to myriad head-coaching openings the past decade and a half, although he’s never pulled the trigger on a move out on his own. He’s also been mentioned regarding various coordinating vacancies, allowing this past March that Texas A&M’s interest in him following the 2014 season “was probably as close as I’ve ever been to leaving this place.”

The 38-year-old Shane Beamer, meanwhile, has only been on his dad’s staff for the past four years, although he did play wide receiver for the Hokies in the mid-nineties.  He’s spent time on staffs at Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

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D-II team permitted to talk to Dennis Norfleet even as plan in place for Michigan return

Michigan v Ohio State Getty Images

Confusion has reigned for the better part of three months regarding the status of Dennis Norfleet at Michigan.  The events of the last two days, unfortunately, have done little to clear up the situation.

Monday, a spokesperson for Tuskegee University, a Div. II team in Alabama, confirmed to mlive.com that the football program officially received permission from UM to speak to Norfleet about the possibility of a transfer.  Speaking with the media Tuesday, however, first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh indicated that a transfer is not written in stone.

In fact, Harbaugh spoke of a plan being in place for the return specialist to return for his senior season.

Back in mid-May, reports surfaced that Norfleet had been dismissed from the football program.  A day later, UM clarified that Norfleet had been suspended, not dismissed, with additional reports intimating that the issue or issues were related to academics.  A couple of days later Norfleet apologized for… for whatever it is that’s going on in his life that’s led to the uncertainty.

In its Monday report, mlive.com wrote “Norfleet had been given an opportunity to find his way back into the program by Harbaugh throughout the summer, according to a source close to the receiver” and that “[t]he source also explained how Harbaugh was more than fair with Norfleet throughout the summer, and gave the receiver a real chance of getting back in the program’s good graces.” As it stands now, Norfleet is still listed on UM’s official online roster.

With one season (potentially) remaining, Norfleet is already the Wolverines’ all-time leader in kick returns and kick return yards.

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Denied admission by Wisconsin, four-star 2015 RB visiting Miami

Jordan Stevenson

Not surprisingly, there’s not a lack of suitors lining up to woo Jordan Stevenson.

This past weekend, Stevenson spent a couple of days visiting Nebraska.  Beginning Tuesday and going on into Thursday, 247Sports.com is reporting, the running back is taking a visit to Miami.

There’s also a possibility that Stevenson, who’s reportedly being personally recruited by Nick Saban, could take an official visit to Alabama after his Miami trip, although it’s been reported that the Texas product would like to make a decision on a new school by the end of this week.

Last week it was reported that Stevenson, a 2015 Wisconsin signee, was officially denied enrollment at UW this past week even as he met NCAA enrollment standards.  What the UW issue is and the reason why this happened so close to the start of summer camp hasn’t been detailed, although the school has given the player a complete release from his scholarship.

Regardless of where Stevenson ultimately lands — indications are that the Cornhuskers are the favorites at the moment — he will be eligible to play immediately in 2015.  others that have been mentioned as a possibility are Florida, Oklahoma State, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The interest from myriad Power Five programs is understandable as Rivals.com had the Texas high school product as a four-star prospect, rated as the No. 27 running back in the country and the No. 34 player at any position in the state.

(Photo credit: Rivals.com)

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No decision on Dalvin Cook’s status until case clears

Dalvin Cook =, Jimbo Fisher

Whether or not Dalvin Cook is available for the start of Florida State’s season remains to be seen.

As one of the ACC head coaches getting the ESPN “car wash” treatment Tuesday, Jimbo Fisher very plainly stated that Cook will remain indefinitely suspension his misdemeanor case is resolved.  The running back was charged with battery after a female claimed that he punched her in the face while both were at a Tallahassee bar.

Cook’s initial court date is set for Sept. 2, a date that was pushed back to the frustration of the player’s attorney.  As FSU opens the 2015 season Sept. 5, and as the lawyer has very loudly proclaimed that his client will not take a plea deal, it means Cook could very well be sidelined for the opener against Texas State.

If the case drags deeper into the month of September, games against USF (Sept. 12) and Boston College (Sept. 18, ACC opener and first 2015 road game) could be in jeopardy as well.  There’s also the chance that, once the case is resolved, Fisher could decide to suspend Cook for one or more games.

For now, though, any attempt to guess at what future punishment may be meted out is pointless.

“We’ll wait to make decisions based on facts,” Fisher said when asked about Cook’s status. “And when the case gets concluded and all the facts are in, then Florida State will make a decision based off that and whatever’s going on. But it’s an ongoing investigation so we can’t really say much about it.”

Cook, who led the team in rushing as a true freshman last season, was indefinitely suspended by the football program shortly after the incident.  Cook’s attorney lashed out publicly at those assuming his client’s guilt, while the release of the alleged victim’s 911 call added further questions regarding what actually happened that night in June.

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After considering USF, ex-Auburn DB Mackenro Alexander to go JUCO

Auburn Spring Game

When Mackenro Alexander received a release from his Auburn scholarship in late January, it was thought that he could very well end up at USF. Instead, the defensive back has dropped a couple of rungs of competition to restart his playing career.

According to NFLDraftScout.com‘s Dane Brugler, by way of al.com, Alexander (pictured, being draggedhas decided to transfer to Northeast Mississippi Community College. Because Alexander will be playing at the JUCO level, he will be eligible immediately for the upcoming season.

Because of its geographic location — USF is located in Tampa, Fla., a little over a two-hour drive from Alexander’s home in Immokalee — it was surmised that the AAC Bulls would be a likely landing spot for Alexander.

The defensive back saw very little playing time after coming to Auburn as a three-star member of the Class of 2013.  He played in eight games as a true freshman, then none in 2014.

Originally verbally committed to Florida State, Alexander, rated as the No. 43 safety in the country, ultimately chose AU over his other finalists, Clemson and Mississippi State.  Alexander’s four-star cornerback brotherMackensie Alexander, signed with Clemson in 2013 and, after redshirting, was named as a freshman All-American by several outlets coming off a season in which he started 13 games.

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Media hands out preseason MWC honors, picks

Jay Ajayi, Bryan Harsin

As we roll on toward the start of summer camps and, ultimately, a new season, the Mountain West becomes the latest to unveil its preseason selections.

The media that covers the MWC has tapped defending champion Boise State as its favorite to win the Mountain division, while San Diego State is the favorite in the West.  The Broncos received 28 of a possible 30 first-place votes, while the Aztecs garnered 27.  The other three West votes went to Fresno State, which claimed that division in 2014 but fell to Boise in the conference championship game.

Individually, Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins was named as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year; Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell the Defensive POTY; and San Diego State kicker Donny Hageman the Special Teams POTY.

Below is the media’s predicted order of finish in bot divisions, followed by the first-team all-conference squad.

Mountain Division (First-Place Votes), Total Points
1. Boise State (28) 177
2. Utah State (2) 150
3. Colorado State 108
4. Air Force 90
5. Wyoming 64
6. New Mexico 41

West Division
1. San Diego State (27) 177
2. Fresno State (3) 141
3. Nevada 113
4. San José State 91
5. Hawai‘i 70
6. UNLV 38

Defense
DL Eddie Yarbrough* Sr. Wyoming
DL Alex Hansen** Sr. Air Force
DL Kamalei Correa* Jr. Boise State
DL Ian Seau** Sr. Nevada
LB Tanner Vallejo** Jr. Boise State
LB Kyler Fackrell Sr. Utah State
LB Nick Vigil* Jr. Utah State
DB Weston Steelhammer* Jr. Air Force
DB Donte Deayon** Sr. Boise State
DB Darian Thompson* Sr. Boise State
DB Damontae Kazee** Jr. San Diego State

Offense
QB Chuckie Keeton Sr. Utah State
WR Rashard Higgins* Jr. Colorado State
WR Devonte Boyd** So. UNLV
RB Donnel Pumphrey* Jr. San Diego State
RB Marteze Waller** Sr. Fresno State
OL Marcus Henry* Sr. Boise State OL Rees Odhiambo** Sr. Boise State
OL Alex Fifita Sr. Fresno State
OL Ben Clarke Sr. Hawaiʻi
OL Pearce Slater Sr. San Diego State
TE Steven Walker* Sr. Colorado State

Specialists
P Alex Boy** Sr. Nevada
PK Donny Hageman Sr. San Diego State
Ret. Carlos Wiggins Sr. New Mexico

* – member of the 2014 All-Mountain West first team.
** – member of the 2014 All-Mountain West second team.

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Syracuse dismisses leading receiver from 2013

Ashton Broyld, Steele Divitto

A productive 2013 season led to high hopes within the Syracuse football program when it came to Ashton Broyld. Unfortunately, injuries and, ultimately, the player himself derailed the senior’s career with the Orange.

Tuesday morning, head coach Scott Shafer announced that Broyld has been dismissed from his football team. The only reason given, of course, was violating unspecified team rules.

In 2013, Broyld led the team in both receptions (52) and receiving yards (452). Broyld was the Orange’s leading receiver through the first three games last season before a lower-leg injury caused him to miss eight of the last nine games.

Even as he’s listed as a running back, Broyld finishes his ‘Cuse career with more receptions and receiving yards (74, 679) than carries and rushing yards (38, 173). Oddly enough, his lone career touchdown came on the ground.

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Sonny Dykes gets defensive in completing Cal coaching staff

Stanford v Cal

Back in May, wide receiver coach Pierre Ingram‘s arrest on a charge of solicitation of a lewd act and subsequent dismissal led to a vacancy on Cal’s coaching staff. With the start of summer camp growing larger on the horizon, Sonny Dykes has filled the hole — with, oddly enough, someone from the other side of the ball.

In a press release, Cal announced that John Lovett has been hired and will serve as the cornerbacks coach on Dykes’ staff. Lovett spent the past two seasons as a defensive backs coach with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, while he spent the year prior to that coaching the same position at Texas Tech.

In 2009 and 2010, Lovett was the defensive coordinator at Miami (Fla.). He was the special teams coordinator at North Carolina the two years prior to that, as well as Auburn’s defensive coordinator from 1999-2001 and holding the same title at Clemson from 2002-04.

In a coaching career that began back in the mid-seventies, the school writes in its release, “Lovett is a veteran college and NFL coach with nearly four decades of experience that include 18 seasons as a collegiate defensive coordinator and 14 as a defensive backs coach at the collegiate and NFL levels.”

With Lovett’s hiring, five of the offensive-minded Dykes’ nine full-time assistants are defensive coaches. That appears to be a calculated decision on the coach’s part.

“We are thrilled to be able to add someone with John’s level of experience and expertise to our coaching staff,” Dykes said in a portion of his statement. “He is a proven coach who has had success at the highest level of football. His addition to our staff certainly makes us better as a unit. …

“By hiring John it allows us to put needed resources into our defensive coaching staff to work with a young group of players that we know need to continue to improve. I am especially excited to have a pair of highly-respected coaches like John and Greg working together with our defensive backs. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the improvements our defensive staff has already made in our defense and hiring John should help us speed up the process even more.”

In a five-win 2014 season, Cal finished No. 125 in passing yards allowed — 367.2 yards per game; pass-happy Washington State was No. 124 at 296.6 ypg — and, at 39.8, No. 120 in points allowed per game. On the NCAA’s official stat website, there are 125 teams listed for the 2014 season.

As for who will take over Ingram’s wide receiver duties? “Dykes will provide instruction for the team’s outside receivers, a position he coached for nine seasons (1999-2006) including his final two as a co-offensive coordinator at Texas Tech,” the release explained.

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UCLA transfer QB Asiantii Woulard seeking immediate USF eligibility

UCLA v Virginia

When Asiantii Woulard announced late last month that he would be transferring into the USF football program from UCLA, it was assumed that the quarterback would be forced to sit out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. While that assumption may ultimately be proven correct, it’s not yet a certainty.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Woulard is pursing a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to become eligible to compete immediately in 2015. The Times writes that “[i]t is believed Woulard, who starred at Winter Park [Fla.] High [School], is pursuing a waiver based on family reasons.” Just what those family reasons are, whether they be health-related or otherwise, was not divulged.

The paper does, though, acknowledge that the odds for a successful appeal for a waiver are long. Should the appeal be denied, Woulard would have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.

A four-star member of UCLA’s 2013 recruiting class, Woulard was rated as the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback in the country; the No. 23 player at any position in the state of Florida; and the No. 141 player overall according to Rivals.com. During his first and only two years with the Bruins, Woulard didn’t see any game action.

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Paul Johnson was on fire talking Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame and SEC

Paul Johnson

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was not the only ACC coach sharing some hot takes today while going through the annual ESPN carwash in Bristol. Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson also made some heads turn with his comments about Ohio State getting in the College Football Playoff and rival Georgia. Well, they were not so much boiling hot takes, but still bringing enough sizzle to make it worth sharing and reacting.

Johnson’s Georgia Tech team put Florida State to the test in last season’s ACC Championship Game. With the win in the conference title game, Florida State locked down a perfect regular season to help grab a firm hold on one of the four playoff spots in the College Football Playoff. Meanwhile, Ohio State made one last case to get in ahead of Big 12 co-champions Baylor and TCU. As has been suggested by some, including TCU’s Gary Patterson, Ohio State may have gotten in due to being a more recognizable brand in the college football landscape compared to either Big 12 co-champ. Johnson seems to agree.

Asked if brand names come into play with the playoff, Johnson said “It already came into play with TCU and Ohio State. It’s the world we live in.”

Johnson also sees little difference between Georgia and top ACC programs like Florida State and Clemson.

“I can assure you Georgia isn’t any different than Clemson or Florida State or some other teams we play,” Johnson said at one point during his carwash experience. Johnson has some merits to back up his statement, having coached Georgia Tech to victories over both Georgia and Mississippi State last season.

Johnson was also asked whether or not the SEC champion will definitely be rewarded a spot in the College Football Playoff (why this question was posed to Johnson is beyond comprehension).

Why so? I don’t get it,” Johnson said.

Just for good measure, Johnson joined Swinney in commenting on Notre Dame’s independence, saying the Irish should be in the ACC. “It’s another brand program to strengthen the conference,” Johnson said.

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